|Argentina had a strong rock n’ roll scene dating back to the ’50s, for years largely imitative of U.S. sounds, with records sung in English. The explosion of British Invasion sounds came through the hugely influential Los Shakers, from nearby Montevideo, Uruguay, and later from Los Mockers and Los Bulldogs, also Uruguayan bands.|
By the mid-’60s groups like Los Gatos Salvajes started singing in Spanish. Another was Los Beatniks, who had been playing in the basement club La Cueva on Pueyrredón Avenue. They recorded their only single “Rebelde” / “No finjas más” (CBS 21574) on June 2, 1966. “Rebelde” is credited as the first Argentine garage song sung in Spanish. The song starts with a great bass and drum line and has fine organ fills, but the coolest parts are the opening scream and the ghoulish echo of the vocals during the chorus.
They pulled some publicity stunts – supposedly playing naked in a fountain and spending three days in prison for it. There’s a short, silent b&w clip of the band playing in the back of trucks around Buenos Aires. The stunts got them some media coverage, but didn’t help their single – it sold only 200 copies out of the 600 pressed and they soon broke up. (Note: there were unrelated groups from Brazil, Chile and Mexico that also had the name Beatniks.)
Their singer Pajarito Zaguri made a single as El Cuarto Pajarito with other musicians he knew from La Cueva and an all-night pizza shop, La Perla del Once. He then joined Los Náufragos for their debut LP before forming La Barra de Chocolate with guitarist Nacho Smilari, Jorge “Yoryo” Mercury on organ, Miguel Monti on bass and Quique Sapia on drums.
La Barra de Chocolate released four singles and and LP on the Music Hall label. Stylistically they range from pop with horns and strings to psychedelia of “Proyectos de un ladrón prisionero” (hear it on the compilation Obsession on Bully Records) and “El divagante” to the extended jamming of “Viste”. My favorite tracks are the garage sound of “Buenos Aires Beat” from their LP and the b-side to their third single “El Malecon”, which has a scuzzy funk quality that really sets it apart.
Their LP and singles have been reissued on CD (from master tapes I believe), though it’s not easily available. The CD includes the b-side to Los Beatniks single, “No finjas más”, plus another song not released at the time, “El Soldado” (but not “Rebelde” for some reason), and both sides of the rare El Cuarto Pajarito single.
Thanks to Borja for the scan of the Los Beatniks single. The Magic Land is a great source of info on rock from Argentina and Uruguay.
Don’t know a thing about this band other than the Argentine origin. “Me voy de fiesta con mis amigos” is a cool rocker with an “A Day in the Life” interlude and strange ending that seems to cut too soon. The song was written by ‘Timoteo’.